The scandal-ridden UAW-Chrysler National Training Center has filed a civil lawsuit against a former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. executive and the widow of United Auto Workers leader in a bid to claw back millions of dollars they embezzled from the NTC during the years.
Dennis Williams, the UAW outgoing president, also took aim at the theft of the joint funds during a speech on the opening day of the unions Constitution Convention.
“To be clear: those who misallocated or misused training center funds betrayed our trust,” the retiring president told the 1,100 delegates gathered in Detroit “The UAW has zero tolerance for corruption, wrongdoing, at any level of this organization.”
The lawsuit over the stolen joint funds comes nearly a year after the disclosure of federal criminal investigation that resulted in a half-dozen indictments as well as guilty pleas by key targets of the probe by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Labor.
(Court cases expose UAW to more charges by employees. Click Here for the story.)
Alphons Iacobelli, former FCA vice president of labor relations and Jerome Durden, a former FCA financial official, were participants in crimes against the NTC. Their conduct not only victimized the NTC but also has resulted in indictments and convictions for violations of federal laws, said Shawn Fain and Tom Rolands, co-directors of the NTC in a statement announcing that the lawsuit had been filed in Oakland County Circuit Court outside Detroit.
The lawsuit also names Susanne Iacobelli, Alphons Iacobelli’s spouse, and Monica Morgan, the widow of the late General Holiefield, former head of the UAW Chrysler Departments as defendants.
Iacobelli, Morgan and several of their assistants are accused by the DOJ of siphoning off millions of dollars in training funds for everything from mortgage payments on home in suburban Detroit, to a used Ferrari, lavish gifts and high-end entertainment, using NTC credit cards.
The scandal has been particularly damaging to the UAW, which has seen its reputation and credibility undermined and put the UAW’s leadership on the defensive as the struggle to deflect the fallout from the scandal.
Williams, who is scheduled to leave office this week, defended the UAW’s actions by noting new dues money was never involved. He also said the joint training programs, despite the millions of dollars embezzled over the years, have still benefited union members who have received critical training through the NTC.
(Click Here for details about the Feds securing a new indictment in FCA-UAW scandal.)
However, Williams also said the union faced challenges in uncovering the scandal because it did not have access to the NTC’s financial records during Holiefield’s tenure as director of the Chrysler Department.
Fain and Roland said in a statement that the NTC has taken a number of steps to ensure this type of illegal activity will not be repeated. Some of the actions include imposition of stringent internal accounting controls adoption and strict enforcement of new expense policies and the hiring of an independent accounting firm to audit the NTC’s financial statements.
In addition, the NTC has hired an in-house controller along with new personnel in various position of leadership to improve oversight of the center.
Under the terms of the UAW’s labor contract with FCA, The NTC is a joint effort betwe9en the UAW and FCA to provide education, training and re-training of FCA employees. The NTC was first organized in 1985 through contract negation is government four appointed by the UAW and four appointed by FCA.
(For our initial report on the original indictments, Click Here.)
Ford and General Motors also have joint training centers staffed by company and union representatives and administered by jointly appointed boards. The joint UAW-GM fund built a lavish headquarters on the Detroit River, while Ford training center has acquired a prominent spot next to Detroit’s convention center.